Gatineau mayor reflects on 8 years in office as final term comes to a close

Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin, who led the city through two major floods, a devastating tornado and the COVID-10 pandemic, will not run for re-election Nov. 7.

Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin led city through 2 major floods, a tornado and a pandemic

Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin has attended his final council meeting after eight years in the city's top job. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

After 12 years in public service — and eight years at the city's helm — Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin has attended his last council meeting.

"It was fairly emotional for a lot of us," Pedneaud-Jobin told CBC Radio's All In A Day earlier this week.

The two-term mayor, who also spent a term as a city councillor, said he never would have anticipated running for the city's top position, let alone doing the job for nearly a decade. 

"It's a hard job, and it's one mandate after the other, and each time you have to take the decision to continue or to stop," said Pedneaud-Jobin, who is not running for re-election next month.

He explained he always saw politics as a means to an end, and not a career path.

Pedneaud-Jobin counts the severe flooding that deluged parts of Gatineau in 2017 and 2019 among his most formidable challenges during his time in office.

"What I found very difficult is that there's only so much you can do. The water is there, I can't push it back. People are losing their houses," he said. "When you're facing people and looking into their eyes saying there's not much else you can do … it's tough to be at the helm of the city, and in some cases to be powerless."

Pedneaud-Jobin also recalled the tornado that struck Gatineau in 2018, and the current COVID-19 pandemic, as difficult moments to navigate.

Daunting responsibility

Even when the city isn't facing catastrophe, Pedneaud-Jobin said being mayor comes with a daunting degree of responsibility to always do what's best for residents.

"We're at the head of an organization that protects them, that helps them, that gives them services and culture, sports for them and for their kids," he said. 

"In a way — and maybe I shouldn't say that — I underestimated how important the mayor's role was, so that was one of the first surprises I had when I was elected."

Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin won't be running for re-election next month. He reflects on his time in municipal politics with Alan.

Pedneaud-Jobin said while there are aspects of the job that he loves and would happily continue to do, he certainly won't miss council meetings after more than a decade of them. 

"It's extremely varied, and that makes the job interesting, but after 12 years, there are a few of those issues that I'm happy to let other people tackle," he said. 

He said he's more interested in big-picture policy now, and has less interest in day-to-day city operations. 

"And if I'm not ready to do the whole thing, I better step down, because the smallest and the biggest issues are all part of the job," he said.

Pedneaud-Jobin said he hopes his successor will continue to foster the strong relationship he formed with Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, and keep working to earn Gatineau recognition both provincially and nationally. 

Municipal elections in Quebec take place Nov. 7.

With files from All in a Day